Skyrocketing rents statewide have left many residents struggling to afford housing.
This year, about 71% of low-income Florida residents and 42% of middle-income residents are expected to be “cost burdened” — or spend more than 30% of their income on housing — according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition.
It’s an issue industry professionals predict will continue to worsen.
As rental rates rise, where can Florida residents turn for assistance?
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OUR Florida rental assistance
There is only one statewide, federally funded program offering rental assistance.
Opportunities for Utilities and Rental Assistance (OUR) Florida can provide up to 18 months of rent and utility payments for tenants with unpaid bills as well as landlords facing revenue loss, according to its website.
Renters can be eligible for assistance if:
- They rent a home or apartment
- Earn an income at or less than 80% of the area’s median income
- Have qualified for unemployment, experienced loss of income, or are facing financial hardship because of the global health crisis
- Are in danger of losing their home due to financial difficulty.
Assistance is determined by the tenant’s current lease, which should state monthly rent payments and be signed by the landlord. “Other” fees that could be included in rental agreements, such as garbage or pet fees, could also be eligible for relief.
The maximum payment to an eligible household is $2,000 monthly, and the total payment for any household over the program’s entirety is $15,000. Payments are made directly to the landlord and/or utility provider.
There are a few hoops renters have to jump through to receive aid. The application requires documentation, including:
- Identification, such as a driver’s license, birth certificate or passport
- Current lease agreement or other proof of rental arrangements
- Annual income, such as tax filings, a W-2 or 1099
- Notice of past due rent, lease termination or eviction
- Unemployment benefits or proof of reduction in household income
- SNAP, TANF, Medicaid, subsidized housing or low-income housing proof of eligibility.
Applications are processed on a first-approved, first-funded basis; however, priority is given to households with incomes less than 50% of the area median income and those with one or more members having been unemployed for at least 90 days.
Residents are not eligible to receive OUR Florida assistance if they have collected emergency rental assistance through state and local relief funds; private, nonprofit organizations; or the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
A list of local relief efforts statewide can be found on the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s website, nlihc.org/rental-assistance.
How to apply for Florida rental assistance
Residents can apply for OUR Florida relief online, at era.ourflorida.com, or by calling 833-493-0594.
Catie Wegman is TCPalm’s housing and real estate reporter. You can keep up with Catie on Twitter @Catie_Wegmanon Facebook @catiewegman1 and email her firstname.lastname@example.org.
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